• Ellis
    2
    So when I was around 14-15 years old (just starting in high school) I started to actually think about the world, who and what I was, and ask questions about what life was all about. For a long time I concluded that nothing mattered because everything works in cycles anyway. But thinking more on that, around the age of 18 I had a sort of epiphany? I thought about how large the universe was in comparison to me, a 5 foot human, and how ridiculous anything us humans were squabbling about might seem to a star if it were sentient. I've been through a lot since then, but long story short, to me, everything, especially that in relation to human society, seems absolutely absurd. What do you think?
  • Philosophim
    528
    Sure. In relation to things other than yourself, and those that might have any interest in you, you likely seem absurd.

    But what about to yourself? Do the things you do seem absurd? When you wake up and have a good day, is it nothing? When you have a bad day, is it nothing?

    At the end of the day, you are the one living your life. You find meaning or absurdity in what you do. Because the lesson you realized is it doesn't really matter to anyone else does it? Even if it somehow does, there's you living that life at the end of the day and having to experience it all.
  • Judaka
    1k

    Intellects dictate meaning, including the meaning of relative space and time and inanimate objects have no active role to play to dispute whatever the intellect dictates. If a star were sentient and intelligent, it might go mad with boredom but they're not and thus the star in this thought experiment is just being puppeted by your imagination. Perhaps you would like to be the star, who in its immense size and magnificence, looks down on human society and is far removed from it? I could admire that. However, this is a luxury for the star, not a difference in perspective. When you are in human society, sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in, what you want or just to defend yourself. I think it's easy to judge when removed but once you're in it, there's little to do but join the squabbling.
  • Brett
    3k


    What you can do is make meaning out out of your life.

    It’s one of the things you have control over. You can chose any direction you like. There is absurdity in life but probably not the way you see it. In a way you’ve started waking up to a few things, but there’s a lot more to come. You might be pleasantly surprised about what you find. Just keep taking one step at a time, you’ll get there.
  • Echarmion
    1.9k
    I've been through a lot since then, but long story short, to me, everything, especially that in relation to human society, seems absolutely absurd. What do you think?Ellis

    I think it's quite soothing, at times, to think it's all absurd. In the words of Monty Python:

    For life is quite absurd
    And death's the final word
    You must always face the curtain with a bow
    Forget about your sin
    Give the audience a grin
    Enjoy it, it's your last chance anyhow
  • five G
    37


    For some it's space, for others it's time that makes us ridiculous. For me it's always been time more than space. If all that space out there is devoid of intelligence (which it's probably not?), then the density of its significance is almost nil.

    It's that the generations come and go like the leaves on the trees. It's that all paths lead to the same nothingness (or so I expect.) It's the big death of the species, too, which defeats the usual transpersonal escapes from our little, individual deaths.

    How do we bear it? Or is it actually an ecstatic vision? To think the absurdity of the species is to put oneself above all mortal doings. Some part of us temporarily floats above the grand spectacle of human history, drifts in imagination to before its evolution and beyond its extinction. The vision of the absurd is a kind of transcendence, but it can also be hell, and many ambivalent states in between.
  • Tom1352
    16
    Yes from an objective point of view or even any view beyond human I agree that our existence seems absolutely absurd and pointless since there is nothing beyond our own experiences to latch onto and take meaning from. But the fact is stuff still matters to us. We still take meaning in things and care about whatever is in our subjective experiences and that is as far as this argument needs to go. It's a similar position taken by the idealist; even if you accept that there is no external world beyond your own sense perception does this mean you can just live your life without acknowledging that there is anything beyond your own mind? No, of course not. Ultimately we can only rely on our own subjective experiences to take meaning in our lives and should not expect an answer to make human existence seem less absurd.
  • Ellis
    2
    Of course! I wasn't trying to sound pessimistic in my post tbh, a lot of times my writing style sounds sad or whatever but I mostly just wanted to know what people think about the relation between humans and the universe as a whole~ Thanks for your reply.
  • Marchesk
    4.2k
    There is no value, purpose or morality to the universe itself. It just is because it could be for whatever physical reasons. Same with life where the chemical conditions were right for it to come about. But some living things can assign and argue over values because valuing things is useful for survival, and social organisms need to cooperate.
  • Hippyhead
    1.1k
    I've been through a lot since then, but long story short, to me, everything, especially that in relation to human society, seems absolutely absurd.Ellis

    I haven't used the word absurd so much, but I get the general sentiment. I spend a LOT of time in the woods. When I'm spending the entire dawn to dusk day out there by myself, interest in human melodrama does recede substantially. Hmm...

    Remember when you were in the fourth grade and it mattered so much that one of the guys or girls didn't like you. But now all that melodrama seems far distant and only of vague historical interest? Kinda like that. You know the melodrama is real, you know it's there, you know it matters, but um, you're just kind of floating away from it all.

    Here's a solution of sorts to the absurdity experience. Shift our focus away from the tiny human world to the infinitely larger and truly far more amazing real world beyond.

    What do you think?Ellis

    That I probably think about all this crap rather too much.
  • Manuel
    66
    By itself? You can make that argument if you like. But I don't think this holds true for higher mammals at least, they live with some kind of basic innate purpose. Which is why suicide is rather rare for such creatures. We certainly create meaning, but it does not come pre-made, unless you believe in God or some "higher power".

    But also, saying that the universe is absurd, is quite a high bar to uphold as well. This would mean that everything we have discovered, written and learned was for not point at all. Plato wrote absurd ideas, Kant too, Newton as well and everyone else. All the art and music you like, all of that effort and pain and joy and suffering, put into anything people do, was for nothing. Maybe. But why choose to think that, when there's an alternative. All these things we have achieved were meant for other people to enjoy and think and learn. But I understand that sometimes it feels as it doesn't matter anyway. Just that it's an attitude that hurts the person who holds it, more than anyone else. Unless you take the absurd to be comical, then there's that.
  • Gnomon
    1.2k
    I've been through a lot since then, but long story short, to me, everything, especially that in relation to human society, seems absolutely absurd. What do you think?Ellis
    What you are complaining about is the sad fact that humans, and human society, are often irrational. But that's exactly why the profession of Philosophy was created long-ago : to try to extract some sense from our all-too-often senseless behavior. Such behavior seems ironic & absurd because it is often self-defeating --- like a mob of "patriots" storming the capital of their nation, where emotions that run riot in the streets are supposed to be calmly debated and deliberated, in order to restore law & order to social chaos.

    Unfortunately, I doubt that there is much you or I can do to restore sanity to human society. But you can alleviate your personal feeling of absurdity, by adopting a general worldview that sees a universal progressive Cosmos, within which remains a stain of absurd Chaos.

    In my personal worldview, LOGOS is the organizing force that extracts Order out of Chaos. The philosophy of Existentialism advised that, instead of bowing to the pressure of Absurdity, we take personal responsibility for restoring order within our own local purview. But my philosophy adds the notion that, on-the-whole, this crazy mixed-up world is on a rational long-range mission, and is actually making moral progress. Of course, such an "absurd" idea is controversial. That's why I refer to it as "philosophical". :joke:

    Chaos & Cosmos :
    https://www.qcc.cuny.edu/socialsciences/ppecorino/intro_text/Chapter%201%20Introduction/Chaos%20and%20Cosmos.htm

    Chaos, Cosmos, and Logos : It is also important to emphasize that it is logos that distinguishes cosmos from chaos. The logos of an ordered system is precisely its element of order: it is the principle ordering the system in question.
    http://faculty.winthrop.edu/oakesm/phil301/chaoscosmoslogos.pdf

    Chaos :
    In ancient Greek creation myths Chaos was the void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos. It literally means "emptiness", but can also refer to a random undefined unformed state that was changed into the orderly law-defined enformed Cosmos. In modern Cosmology, Chaos can represent the eternal/infinite state from which the Big Bang created space/time. In that sense of infinite Potential, it is an attribute of G*D, whose power of EnFormAction converts possibilities (Platonic Forms) into actualities (physical things).
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page12.html

    Logos :
    In Enformationism, it is the driving force of Evolution, Logos is the cause of all organization, and of all meaningful patterns in the world. It’s not a physical force though, but a metaphysical cause that can only be perceived by Reason, not senses or instruments.
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page14.html
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.9k
    Isn't that an argument that human beings are absurd, not the universe?

    I do check the cosmological scale from time to time. It can help put things in perspective. Nonetheless we cannot help but value life, and we are in a unique position to act on that. It's absurd to think anything you do matters on a cosmological scale, but it's even more absurd that people don't make the best of the negligible importance they have.
  • Eliot
    3
    I think this question is very interesting, however we have to lay some groundwork before we are able to aswer it.

    First of all, the idea that the universe is absurd poses the notion of worth. If we have that impression, it is because we contrast our vision of life -that of a journey with a beggining and an end to it- to the absence of purpuse of the cosmos, setting aside any divinine purpouse if you beleive in God. Religion aside, it is interesting to notice that in this sense we impose our values on nature: it is therefore only normal that nature -the cosmos- seems devoid of meaning because meaning is something that we assign to our surroundings. Something isn't inherently meaningful, it just IS. Therefore, we need to keep in mind that the very notion of meaning is artificial and is seperated from nature.

    If we choose to continue this train of thoughts, one might wonder: "but then how did meaning come to humanity if nature is inherently irrationnal ?". We can reformulate this question as: "Was it humanity or the notion of purpouse that came first ?". If we base ourselfes on purpouse as being the construction of society to make sense of the world, then humanity must have come first since humans first existed before society. This means that purpouse is an artificial concept not just for nature, but also for us: we do not have any goal in life, rather we tend to create objectives upon which we set ourselfes to make sense of the world around us. But if rationality is just a construct, where does that leave us ?

    So far we have established that nature is inherently irrationnal in the sense that it has no specific purpouse in mind. In the same way, humainy as a part of nature does not have any inherent purpouse: you don't wake up in the morning because some cosmic law makes it your goal in life to do so: you wake up in the morning because the contrustion we have of life is that it is necessary to wake up at a certain time to do a certain job for a certain wage before repeating the cycle again, allbeing with much more nuances and various events. What I am trying to get to is that we tend to too often see the world through the lenses of society, assigning meaning to our surroundings when really there is none, just a constant state of existence.

    The problem with the notion of purpouse is that it has led us not only to see the world in a false light, as always mooving in some direction, but our life too. There is no meaning to today, tomorrow or even yesterday. The universe is absurd, and so are we. And we should not beleive the contrary, because by doing so we are trapping ourselves in a vision of life that does not fit reality. We must learn that there really isn't any point in chasing purpouse in life. This vision of the world is largely the fault of our education system, whihc teaches us to conform to society rather than forms a critical mindset. But if there is no purpouse in life, just like in the universe itself, what is life itself ?

    Here we have touched the heart of the question you asked, and what it can teach us. If we continue to look at our existence in analogy to the rest of the universe, one thing that is certain is that we are constantly in movement: it is impossible to say that because the world lacks purpouse it lacks life, and therefore life is the action which takes place in the world. Our life is therefore defined through our interaction with the rest of the world, and this is where I beleive lies a profound message. If we choose to view our relationship with the world as a series of interactions without any further purpouse, then life is esentially playful. In the abscence of meaning, all that is left is experiencing the world around us. The universe isn't going anywhere, and neither are we. We only live in a present which ends one day and if we want to fully enjoy this present we should stop treating life as a meaningful journey from point A to point B, but rather as game we play between the world and us every waking day.

    This is, I beleive, the meaning we can extract from your question, by realising that not only the universe is absurd, but so are we, and that isn't a bad thing. I hope you found this itnteresting. And if ever you feel I am wrong I would be happy to keep discussing this and finding a definitive aswer to your question ;)

    Peace out,

    Eliot
  • javra
    1.2k
    I think it's quite soothing, at times, to think it's all absurd. In the words of Monty Python:

    "For life is quite absurd
    And death's the final word
    You must always face the curtain with a bow
    Forget about your sin
    Give the audience a grin
    Enjoy it, it's your last chance anyhow"
    Echarmion

    :up:

    What do you think?Ellis

    My view is that that being per se is by its very nature beyond the principle of sufficient reason and, therefore, in one literal sense, absurd.

    That said, beings, in the plural, are parts, fragments, of being proper. As fragmented aspects of being proper, we crave/want. And, inherent in this, is the need to understand, to hold and find meaning: this so as to quench our cravings/wants as best we can. Hence:

    [...] but long story short, to me, everything, especially that in relation to human society, seems absolutely absurd.Ellis

    To me, while "everything" in its largest form can well be construed as absurd, as reason-less, that which relates to human society is anything but ... for it's replete with reasons and, as entailment, with meanings.

    The OP reminds me somewhat of this:

    A man said to the universe:
    “Sir, I exist!”
    “However,” replied the universe,
    “The fact has not created in me
    A sense of obligation.”
    — Stephen Crane

    While I find a lot of truth embedded in this poem, notice that the man's implicitly given wants are, and can only be, inherently meaningful (at the very least to the man himself) - even though the universe which he addresses may very well not be.
  • javra
    1.2k
    Therefore, we need to keep in mind that the very notion of meaning is artificial and is seperated from nature.Eliot

    This would make sentient beings seperated from nature. Which invokes a very weird notion of "nature".

    This means that purpouse is an artificial concept not just for nature, but also for us: we do not have any goal in life, rather we tend to create objectives upon which we set ourselfes to make sense of the world around us.Eliot

    We are not that which causes ourselves to be in want. Wanting is an intrinsic aspect of all sentient beings - from the want of physical sustenance to strictly sapient wants, such as those of a better life, of greater wisdom, and so forth. This the quenching of want is, of itself, a goal we constantly pursue.

    Are you, in contrast to this, saying that the quenching of wants is not "a goal in life"? Or else somehow not real? How so?
  • counterpunch
    233
    Absurdism is a philosophy - Søren Kierkegaard and Albert Camus being the chief exponents. It was coined in relation to nihilism - Friedrich Nietzsche, so it seems phylogeny does recapitulate ontogeny - which is to say, for some time - philosophy too believed nothing mattered, and then, just like you, decided that everything is simply absurd. Both these philosophies are wrong.
  • Eliot
    3
    This would make sentient beings seperated from nature. Which invokes a very weird notion of "nature".javra

    You're quite right, however it might be intresting to consider sentinecy apart from nature: we ourselfes are part of nature but our way of thinking is not. Perhaps here again this is ambiguious. I am considering that nature isn't obviously what is natural but what is exterior to us. Again, I am assuming that who we are can be reduced to our conciousness/way of thinking. In that sense our body is not us and is part of the outside world: even if other people resemble us they are not us, which means that we can't be defined by our bodies. Maybe it would have been clearer if instead of refering to nature I had referred to "the outside world". Please tell me if you think this makes sense.

    Are you, in contrast to this, saying that the quenching of wants is not "a goal in life"? Or else somehow not real? How so?java

    Good point, I haden't thought about that. However are all wants intrinsic to us ? The desire to create art for example is something we do not see in other species, nor the desire to explore without need. What I mean is that "want" itself is not always necesserary, and there are some goals we pursue that other people don't. Therefore wanting depends on ourselfs and not on our surroundings, which reinforces the idea that there isn't purpouse that we don't give. The following might be a bit of a strech, but strictly speaking it is you who chooses to eat, and we see this in people who fast. Therefore, even basic desires such as sutenance are imposes by yourself on you. The only difference would be that we are made so that to cease pursuing such desires would be edadly. We can therefore make a difference between biological desires, which are part of the ouside world (if we define "outside" as what isn't us) and personal desires. I think this lets us lay a basis to the world with biological desires being the only ones which motivate us to pursue a specific goal in life, least we were to die.

    Thanks for correcting me !

    philosophy too believed nothing mattered, and then, just like you, decided that everything is simply absurdcounterpunch

    Just to clarify, the train of thoughts that I am following is that even though the world is absurd -which is to say it has no specif goal in mind- it still has meaning. The only nuance I am trying to proove is that we assign meaning ourself, and if that is the case the world still has values yet they are artificial. The reason I beleive this is important is that we tend to interact with the world striclty based on these values and without considering the world itself. This leads us to be trapped within societal constrains, whereas I beleive we would be happier if we were also able to consider the world seperatly from the values we assign it whenever we makes decisons. As such we would need to ask ourselfes: "Are the values I impose upon myself only shackles to my freedom that are not made to guarantee the freedom of others ?".

    Both these philosophies are wrong.counterpunch

    How so ?
  • counterpunch
    233
    Both these philosophies are wrong.
    — counterpunch

    How so ?
    Eliot

    I was afraid someone might ask that, but then, I was also afraid someone wouldn't - so, here goes. Meaning. The surviving organism has to be correct to reality or be rendered extinct. From the structure of DNA, to physiology, to behaviour, to human intellect - organisms are tested at every level in relation to reality, and what is wrong is rendered extinct as a matter of cause and effect. This truth relation between the organism and reality is the fundamental source of meaning. Truth is the primary virtue. Without truth there's no justice. Human beings are imbued with a moral sense; primarily, an irresistible attraction toward truth, and from this, a moral sense ingrained into the organism by evolution in the context of the hunter gatherer tribe.

    Nietzsche didn't understand this. He believed primitive man was an amoral brute - and was fooled by the weak, and chained with Christian morality. That's not what happened. Chimpanzees have morality of sorts. They share food, groom each other and defend the group - and they remember who reciprocates, and withhold such favours accordingly. Primitive man could not have survived if he were as Nietzsche imagined him - an amoral, selfish animal, exerting his will through violence alone. Humans lived in hunter gatherer tribal groups led by the alpha males - and moral conduct is an advanatage to the individual within the tribe, and to the tribe made up of moral indididuals who share food and defend eachother.

    Eventually, hunter gatherer tribes joined together to form multi-tribal social groups. This required that the implicit morality imbued in the hierarchical structures of the tribe, be made explicit - lest any dispute over food or sex or whatever, divide the fledgling society along tribal lines. They needed an explicit set of moral laws - and an absolute, objective authority i.e. God, as justification for those laws. Think Moses, coming down the mountain with the Ten Commandments.

    With the advent of science generally, and evolution in particular, Nietzsche declared God is dead, and flushed the moral baby with the religious bathwater. But he failed to understand that morality is not God given, and objective to human beings, but in reality is an innate sense, like a sense of humour, or the aesthetic sense - drilled into human beings by evolution. Religion is merely an expression of that innate moral sense. Disproving religion, for Nietzsche, disproved morality - and he died of nihilistic despair. He was wrong. That so, absurdism is also wrong.
  • Eliot
    3
    That's very interresting, I haden't thought about this problem from that point of view before. Is there any other source you would reccomend to learn about this subject in the way in which you presented it ? In any case thank you very much for sharing your ideas.
  • counterpunch
    233
    Thanks. This is my philosophy - and as far as I know, it's fairly unique. That said, it is based on quite extensive reading. If you want an enjoyable introduction to evolutionary thinking - I recommend Darwin's Dangerous Idea - by Daniel Dennet.
  • Banno
    10.5k
    Meaning isn't out in the world somewhere waiting to be found. It is stuff you make up, it is what you decide to do.

    So it should not be a surprise that the world appears absurd. Your task might be to make it make sense.

    How do you want the world to be?
  • Banno
    10.5k


    It puzzles me that folk who have at least passing familiarity with ethics can make such obvious mistakes as to think that what is the case is what ought be the case.

    The argument that because an organism survives, it ought to survive, is just straight up invalid.

    You might consider this, if you get around to reading Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
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